Explaining Character Strengths to Children: Meet the Dynamos

One of the cornerstones of Positive Psychology is a scientifically validated set of 24 character strengths, first published in the tome Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification by the late Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman himself. If you want to know what your top strengths are, you can take a free test offered by the VIA Institute on Character.

If you have children and are keen to discover their character strengths, you can find a free test adapted for children on Seligman´s website at the University of Pennsylvania. But how do you talk to your children about the results – or the value and use of character strengths in general?

One fantastic (but not completely free…) opportunity is offered by my fellow MAPP alum Renee Jain. Meet the Dynamos – via an amazing workbook! In the words of their creators:

Dynamos are tiny and powerful beings from the planet Dynamis. Each Dynamo comes into the universe possessing a unique Dynamic or character strength as well as a Supertool to amplify their strength. Children will enjoy learning about character strengths by getting to know the Dynamos and their Supertools.

Kids can read each story in this workbook and then decide which Dynamo (representing a character strength) could be used to effectively solve the problem presented. This workbook is ideal if you’re teaching character education at school or at home.

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12227661_10153619125437752_7503175795841036175_nFind and out about and purchase the workbook via GoZen!

10 more Blogs on Positive Psychology and adjacent You Need to Know

IMG_2317A while ago, I posted a list of 10 blogs on Positive Psychology and adjacent I frequently visit. Back then, I already said it was hard to limit the selection to only 10 sites. Therefore, here´s another curated list of cool Positive Psychology blogs. Share and enjoy!

Eric Barker writes Barking Up The Wrong Tree. He brings you science-based answers and expert insight on how to be awesome at life. His content has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Wired Magazine and Time Magazine.

The Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley (co-founded by Professor Dacher Keltner) “studies the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and teaches skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society”. They frequently publish articles by their own staff as well as guest articles by eminent researchers.

In their own words, The Creativity Post (co-founded by Scott Barry Kaufman) is “a non-profit web platform committed to sharing the very best content on creativity, in all of its forms: from scientific discovery to philosophical debate, from entrepreneurial ventures to educational reform, from artistic expression to technological innovation – in short, to all the varieties of the human experience that creativity brings to life.”

The Center for Positive Organizations (staff includes Professors Jane Dutton, Kim Cameron, Robert Quinn, and Gretchen Spreitzer) based at the Ross School of Business (University of Michigan) seeks to “inspire and enable leaders to build high-performing organizations that bring out the best in people. We are a catalyst for the creation and growth of positive organizations.” They regularly publish articles by the aforementioned researchers and scholars in Positive Organizational Scholarship.

Paula Davis-Laack is a fellow Penn MAPP alum and writes a regular column called Pressure Proof about “strategies and stories for busy, complicated lives” on Psychology Today.

In their own words, The Pursuit of Happiness is a “group of psychologists, philosophers, educators, and web professionals dedicated to the advancement of scientific knowledge about happiness and depression prevention. We provide science-based information on life skills and habits needed to enhance well-being, build resilience against depression and anxiety, and pursue a meaningful life.” Professor Todd Kashdan is one of the contributors.

Happiness by Design is a column on Psychology Today by London School of Economics´ Professor Paul Dolan. It doesn’t update very often by the posts are cool to read.

Action for Happiness is a movement of people committed to building a happier and more caring society. We want to see a fundamentally different way of life – where people care less about what they can get just for themselves and more about the happiness of others. Sir Richard Layard is among the founders. They publish compelling pieces by top-tier Positive Psychology researchers and experts in their news section.

To my mind, Michael Tomoff is one of the few people who write stuff worth reading on Positive Psychology in German. His blog is called Was wäre wenn? (What if?).

The last one is a sort of honorable mention. The late Professor Christopher Peterson published an immensely insightful and oftentimes very funny Positive Psychology blog via Psychology Today called The Good Life. Even though it has not been updated ever since 2012 (for obvious reasons), I revisit it frequently for inspiration.

5 short Videos on Positive Psychology

Dr. Nico Rose - Other People MatterIn April 2015, I gave a keynote on Positive Psychology for several hundred people at the BMW-Arena in Munich.

The talk was recorded and I received a DVD a couple of weeks later. Finally, I’ve found the time to cut and edit some of the parts – these are the videos displayed below.

They’re in German of course and due to the sound equipment, I seem to have a slight lisp (which is not the case) – but nevermind.

The first video is a general introduction to Seligman’s PERMA framework, the second talks about positive emotions and especially, emotional contagion. The third video talks about the importance of social support (Other People Matter), the fourth about Esa Saarinen’s concept of systems of holding back, and the final one is about Daniel Kahneman and peak-end-theory.

Share and enjoy!

Loneliness is a Killer! A TEDx Talk and the Story of my Life

One of the central tenets of Positive Psychology is Other People Matter, coined by the late Prof. Christopher Peterson. If you want to learn just how much they matter to your happiness and your health, you might want to watch this TED talk by Prof. John Cacioppo from University of Chicago.

My Story

Now, I perfectly know from my own life what Prof. Cacioppo is talking about. When I was 16, I went to the USA for a year to attend high school and improve my English skills. I left my family and friends behind – platforms such as Skype and Facebook weren’t available (in fact, Mark Zuckerberg probably was entering middle school at that time). I agreed to have a phone call with my parents only every other Sunday – in order not to abet homesickness. Bad idea, most likely…

For reasons which are to complex and difficult to explain (if it can be explained at all – because every person will have a very different vantage point…), this was by far the loneliest year of my life. I found it hard to connect to my guest families and the larger part of my schoolmates.* For most of the time, m closest social connections consisted of other exchange students (during school hours) and the folks I encountered during basketball pick-up games (in the afternoon). Other than that, for most of the year, I felt utterly alone and devoid of warm social connections, let alone love.

I am now perfectly aware what a situation like this does to your body and your soul. When I came to the U.S., I was a healthy and (ordinarily) happy teenager. By the time I went home, I had developed allergy-based asthma, suffered from recurring panic attacks, and was – according to what I´ve learned during my psychology studies later in life –  more than mildly depressed (including, at times, suicidal thoughts). It took me several years to shake all of this off – but I did.

Full Circle

To end this post on a high note (or rather: two high notes), I have to add that even though this was probably the worst year of my life, that doesn´t mean it hasn’t been a valuable experience. On the one hand, it´s a classic case of “What doesn´t kill me makes me stronger“. On the other hand – and that may be a strangely wonderful twist of fate – this year gave my life a whole new direction. The high school I attended offered psychology as an elective course. These two hours or so every week always were among the regular lights at the end of my tunnel. And I think my psychology teacher is the reason why I chose to pursue that profession later on in my life.

And then, there´s this other – equally beautiful and strange – twist of fate. Mappalicious exists as a blog because I was part of the ninth cohort of the Master of Applied Positive Psychology program at the University of Pennsylvania – it started as a kind of diary. So, 19 years after what I´ve described above, I spent another year in the U.S. (more precisely, several days per months as travelled back and forth between Germany and Philly). Actually, it all happened only about a hundred miles from where I went to school.

And boy, what a difference it has been. It´s been a year full of human bonding, a time of joy, and caring, and yes: love. And, in the light of my past, it´s been a year of healing. Full circle.

Nico Rose - MAPP - Penn Graduation

* I´m not blaming anybody, because it´s actually nobody´s fault. Let´s just say that U.S. high schools can be a pretty tough environment when you´re not exactly part of the in-crowd…

 

What´s your Favorite Positive Psychology Book? (Poll)

Today, I´d like to know which Positive Psychology Book you like best. I´ve provided a list with 10 of the most popular books (from my point of view). You can pick up to 3 books – or list other books that you prefer. Thanks a lot for your participation. Please share this post so others will vote, too!

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22 Positive Psychology-infused Articles every (HR) Leader should know

Positive Organizational ScholarshipPositive Psychology has a lot to offer for leaders, especially those people taking on a leadership role in human resources and people management. In this post, I´ve gathered 22 research articles infused by Positive Psychology (more specifically: Positive Organizational Scholarship) that, in my opinion, have tremendous value for aspiring as well as established managers and entrepreneurs.

The topics comprise desirable attributes and personality variables such as grit, character strengths, and core self-evaluations, how to create positive relationships at work, how employee motivation is created and sustained, how to find meaning and purpose in work, and several review articles, e.g., on the connection of positive emotions and job performance. Enjoy!

P.S.
This is my 300. post since I’ve started Mappalicious about two years ago. Giving myself a slight pat on the back right now…

Positive Psychology at the Movies: Character Strengths in “Love Actually”

Positive Psychology at the MoviesOne of the central concepts in Positive Psychology is the framework of 24 character strengths that have been outlined by Chris Peterson and Martin Seligman in their 2004 tome. It was the foundation for the VIA Institute on Character – where you can take a test (for free) to find out what your top strengths are.

Ryan Niemiec, VIA´s Education Director, has published the book Positive Psychology at the Movies. It examines nearly 1,500 movies with regard to their display of the 24 character strengths throughout their plots. Frankly, so far I did not have the time to watch all of those movies – but considering general life expectancy, I will be able to so until I´m grey and old (don´t know where Ryan finds the time, considering how many books he publishes).

Anyway, I had an idea: instead of trying to find all of the character strengths throughout a ton of movies – would it be possible to find them all in just one? Therefore, I picked one of my all-time favorites, romantic (Christmas) comedy Love Actually, watched it for the hundredth time (or so…) – but for once, looked through the eyes of the VIA taxonomy. And tadaaa: I was able to spot all of them, even though I have to admit that two or three of the attributions may seem somewhat debatable.

Here´s what I´ve found:

  • Mark displays creativity when having arranged the special version of the Beatles´ “All you need is love” for Juliet and Peter´s wedding.
  • Karen displays perspective and humor when cheering up Daniel as he mourns for departed wife.
  • Mark displays creativity when having arranged the special version of the Beatles´ “All you need is love” for Juliet and Peter´s wedding.
  • Harry the Boss displays social intelligence and leadership when confronting his employee Sarah about her being in love with co-worker Carl.
  • Little Sam displays honesty and bravery when telling his step father Daniel about being in love with Joanna.
  • Little Sam displays spirituality when he tells his father about how he believes in love and that there’s one true love out there for each and every one of us.
  • Prime Minister David displays humor when he tries to cheer up Natalie after she told him how bad she has been treated by her ex-boyfriend.
  • The Prime Minister displays prudence and judgment when, at first, he does not want to confront the U.S. delegation during the meeting with U.K. ministers.
  • The Prime Minister displays leadership, humor, and bravery when confronting the POTUS at the press conference.
  • Jamie displays love of learning and perseverance when trying to learn Portuguese in order to be able to talk to Aurelia.Love Actually - Billy Mack
  • Colin displays zest, curiosity, hope, and bravery when deciding to leave the UK for Wisconsin.
  • Mark displays kindness, great honesty, love, and bravery when meeting Juliet at her house on Christmas Eve to confess his love, but also his approval of her living with Peter. (By the way, this is probably my all-time favorite movie scene).
  • Karen displays self-regulation and judgment when pulling herself together on Christmas Day after having found out Harry has cheated on her – in order not to spoil Christmas for their kids.
  • Sarah displays fairness and (the capacity to) love (and be loved) when spending Christmas together with her mentally ill brother.
  • John displays gratitude after having been kissed by “Just Judy” for the first time.
  • The school orchestra/choir displays teamwork when performing at the Christmas concert.
  • The whole audience displays appreciation of beauty and excellence when witnessing young Joanna sing “All I want for Christmas” at the school’s Christmas celebration.
  • Little Sam displays perseverance, and bravery when running to say good-bye to his love Joanna at the airport.
  • Jamie displays hope, bravery, and love when he leaves his family’s Christmas party to spontaneously board a plane to ask Portuguese housemaid Aurelia to marry him.
  • Billy Mack displays humility and gratitude when deciding to return to Joe, his ugly manager, instead of spending Christmas Eve at Elton John´s party.
  • Karen displays forgiveness when she consolingly welcomes her husband Harry at the airport after he has betrayed her.

What´s your favorite movie – and are you maybe going to see it with different eyes in the future?